Pet enthusiasts love debating the perks of their favoured species, and the disadvantages of others. A new documentary from the BBC centres around the quintessential pet debate: Dogs vs Cats, and the claws are out. The documentary explores a range of research related to the two popular household pets, providing even more fuel and material to the ongoing feud.
Before delving into the deeper stuff, the simple Pros and Cons list below sums up the traditional arguments for the Canine vs. Feline cases, just don’t shoot the messenger:
Dogs vs Cats
They are independent and are thus ‘easier’ pets than dogs, in the sense that they do not require regular walks and can use an indoor litter box.
They are intelligent, indicated by their ability to pick up habits such as making use of aforementioned litter box.
They are hunters, and will sniff out any unwanted rodent residing in your home. Moreover, they will constantly surprise you with little ‘treats’ such as decapitated mice, to demonstrate their love for you.
There has actually been some research indicating that the sound frequency of a cat’s purr can have potential health healing benefits.
They scratch, and it hurts.
They are independent, and therefore less emotionally available for loving, stroking, cuddling , etc.
They are incredibly affectionate, from tail wagging to jumping up to greet you to demanding cuddles, they will make you feel loved.
Their typical traits such as loyalty and heightened sense of smell make for valued warriors; dogs are used in warfare to sniff out the enemy and protect their human soldier contemporaries.
They help to lead and guide the blind, enough said.
They are also used to calm victims of disasters, or those suffering from mental health disorders. For instance, one young boy revealed the terrible events of Sandy Hook Elementary School to a golden retriever, after refusing to answer any questions posed by humans.
They can carry fatal diseases such as rabies.
They are quite high maintenance and require regular walking, taking outside, feeding and attention.
These lists simply scratches the surface of the complex natures of our household pets. For a clearer understanding, let’s start at the very beginning.
It turns out that cats like to fight dirty; scientists have confirmed that historically, felines have out-survived dogs, proving more successful in the evolution department. Based on a study of 2,000 ancient fossils, cats and their feline families have survived the past, often at the expense of canines. It seems that the felines won the competition for scarce food supplies due to their hunting skills, wiping out 40 dog species in the process. This led to a mere nine species of wild dog found in North America today, including variations of wolves and foxes. There is no evidence of dogs ever wiping out a species of cat. Miaow.
Intelligence is perhaps the most contested area of debate in the Dogs vs Cats case, with feline friends often dismissing the intellectual capacity of canines. According to researchers from the University of Bristol, UK, cat owners are more likely to hold university degrees, though this is probably due to the long study hours required, meaning that time of pet care is limited and more suited to cats as pets (see pros & cons lists above).
Dogs have been proven to be pretty smart(ish), however, with a study from the University of British Colombia likening canine intelligence to that of a two year old child. Like toddlers, the average dog is able to learn around 165 words. In addition, dogs’ nifty noses can detect melanoma on a person’s skin, as well as breast and lung cancers, according to small trials conducted at Auburn University.
The BBC documentary draws some interesting conclusions about the levels of emotional satisfaction and love your pet brings you, feline fanatics – you may have to sit down before reading this. It seems that dogs love their owners more than cats; scientists measured love as a chemical process, proving that when dogs see their owners, they feel oxytocin which is a hormone stimulating pleasure in our brains, also helping us to bond with our offspring. Whilst levels of oxytocin increased in both cats and dogs after interacting with their owners for ten minutes, cats showed an increase of 12 percent, whilst dogs increased by 57.2 percent, with one loving canine’s oxytocin increasing by 500 percent! If it’s affection you’re after, the results clearly prove that a dog is man’s BFF.
Don’t despair cat lovers: a team at Manhatanville College found that owning any pet will make us happier, though dog owners tend to be less neurotic and more agreeable than cat owners.